Tag Archives: trips

Keana Goes to the Aquarium

Yesterday, Keana took her first big field trip. In kindergarten they went somewhere local for a play, but yesterday the first graders hopped on charter buses and headed to Monterey Bay. We had thought about taking the rest of the family and meeting them there, but work and other factors prevented such a plan. As the field trip day got closer and closer, more and more parents were asking me if I was going. It was funny because I got the sense that the parents were more nervous than the kids. The kids were excited (or at least all the ones I talked to). It was almost as if the parents were checking in with the group to get a read on where everyone else was at with letting their kids go on this faraway adventure from home.

I didn’t really think much of it, but a couple days before the field trip I started asking myself, “Should I be more worried or nervous? Should I try harder to be a chaperone or make plans to meet them there?” This only lasted a second though and then I settled back down. Keana is such a great rule-follower that I knew she would stick with the group and be safe. But then my mind started racing to bus accidents and bad weather and, and, and. Shhhh. Quiet mind. I told myself it would be fine and let it go.

5:00 a.m. came much too soon (as it always does when you have to be somewhere early like that). Keana was so worried I wouldn’t get up, that I knew I couldn’t let her down. So I got right up and started trying to wake her. She was out. Eventually I got her to open her eyes and it didn’t take long for her to get going once she realized that it was finally time for the big adventure to the aquarium. It was still pitch dark outside as we pulled up to the school, and once she saw those big charter buses, she started bobbing up and down and said, “Hurry Papa, hurry! We gotta get on the bus!” I assured her they weren’t going anywhere and hadn’t even started loading yet since we were pretty early. This had zero affect on her. She was ready to go.

It was so much fun to see the kids hug each other upon arrival and jump up and down with excitement. The crowd of parents were almost as excited as the kids but we contained our hugs and jumps. I gave her a hug, said I loved her, and there was no hesitation boarding the giant charter bus and finding a seat. I stuck around to wave goodbye, though I couldn’t tell if she saw me through the tinted windows, but I stayed anyway, just in case.

The day went on and periodically it sunk in that our baby was 150 miles away and completely out of our grasp. I knew she was having a blast though and I imagined all the wonderful things she was seeing for the first time and all the fun she was having with her teacher and friends. I knew this was good for her, good for us, and a really amazing experience for a little six-year-old. It was such a great reminder how important it is to let your kids go sometimes and it was also a very small preview into the future.

When I picked her up from school I heard from her teacher that they stopped at McDonalds and Keana told them she had never been. They were all very surprised of course, and she proceeded to tell them that her papa won’t let her eat there because they chop down rain forests to feed their cattle. One of the kids said that wasn’t true and Keana responded, “Well, my dad is older than you so I think he knows better.” The kids then decided that maybe they should go somewhere else next year. Then of course she went on to say how her favorite food was really sushi and I just had to laugh. What do these Fresnoites think of us? Eh, who cares. It is what it is. She had an ice-cream cone though so that seemed like a good alternative.

When asked what her favorite fish were, she responded with jellyfish, octopus, and sunfish. Slowly, more and more details are coming out about the trip, but it’s clear that she learned lots, had a blast, and truly enjoyed the whole experience: from arriving at school in the dark morning, to riding the bus with her friends, to seeing all the animals in the aquarium, to yes, even McDonalds.

Why Hello, 2012

We’re starting fresh. Not just this month, in this new year, but every day. Every day we start fresh and what I’ve been noticing is that even multiple times a day I remind myself to start fresh. Or at least I try. Sarah and I have been steering our family on a new journey and really trying to be in the moment is one of the main focuses.

With this new journey came a slightly new kind of holiday this past Christmas where we tried to focus on what was best for our family, the family we have control over, and I think we did a pretty good job. In the past we’ve worried and stressed over trying to make everyone else happy and squeeze our own wants in there somewhere too. It was never quite right, and even though this past Christmas wasn’t perfect (what is?), we were definitely on the right track and look forward to continuing the creation of a peaceful tradition for ourselves and the girls.

This month we made our last payment for all the medical bills from Aliya’s birth, which was pretty amazing to say the least. 18 months, a chunk of change, mounds of paperwork, several appeals, many hours on the phone, and a few miracles later, we can finally move out from under that burden. Fittingly, we also traveled back to UCSF for her evaluation for the birth asphyxia study she’s in. After meeting with the neurologist and psychologist and performing a round of tests for each, they determined she’s not only on par with “the norm”, but may even been advanced for her age. We knew this, but still, it’s always good to hear it from the professionals. We made the trip a mini vacation at the end of our winter break, and it was fun staying in Japan Town, going to sushi for Sarah’s birthday, showing the girls around a little, and enjoying all the fun Japanese designs, art, trinkets, and most of all, fresh mochi with azuki bean! On the way back to Fresno, we spent a little time catching up with our good friends from the old hood in Richmond. Two nights in one hotel room with the five us, and an emotional visit back to the hospital, was certainly enough to challenge our sanity, but it was still a great way to end our winter break. It never felt better to return back home though, with many rooms for us all to seek refuge in.

And today we returned to The Routine. I to virtual piles of work, Keana to school, Sarah to putting the house (and our life) back together (and entertaining Maia and Aliya), Maia to play without her big sister, and Aliya, well, nothing really phases her. She just kept on doing what she did all break: climbing on the table, redistributing objects all over the house, snuggling and chasing kitties, playing, asking “what’s that?”, and just generally being the cutest damn Booshki alive.

Off the Clock and Outdoors

Whenever I talk to people about where I live, especially people from other states or countries, I can’t help but brag that in California, we have it all. Beaches, deserts, mountains, forests, you name the environment, we have it. And although it was really hard leaving the bay area and being close to the ocean, being in the central valley is, well, very central, to all the different environments Cali has to offer. For vacation this past week, we hit just about all of them.

To start things off, we made a brief appearance at the annual family campout. Sarah’s been attending this campout with her family and friends pretty much her whole life, so when I came on the scene, it became my tradition too. Keana first went when she was 4 months old, Maia when she was 8 months, and Aliya has never been since she had just been born when it happened last year. Usually we attend this soirée for a week, but the time off didn’t work out this year, so we just went up for the day on Saturday, the day they have the big potluck. The girls loved playing in the river and rock-hopping, even though it was freezing and pretty full due to this year’s crazy snowfall. We enjoyed having the day to catch up with everyone who was there, and even though it was about a 2.5 hour drive each way, it was definitely worth keeping up with the tradition.

I have to say, our family is happiest at the beach though. So just a day after coming down from the mountains, we headed over to Santa Cruz, our old stomping grounds. Sarah and I both attended school there, and met a year after we graduated, in August of 2002. There is nothing quite like Santa Cruz in the summer. The days often start out foggy and chilly, but about noon or one, it burns off for pretty much perfect weather. Sunshine, temperature in the seventies, and a mellow beachfront vibe is pretty irresistible. The first morning there everyone slept in except Aliya, so I bundled her up, put her in the car, and we went cruising along West Cliff drive, along the ocean. I remembered back to many-a-thought-filled time spent along that path, often unwinding from the stresses of academia or past troubles of love and relationships. And on this day, I got to share it with my youngest, who fell right back asleep, allowing me to take some liberty down memory lane.

We spent our first day at the Twin Lakes beach with Sarah’s brother Michael, and all had a blast playing in the ocean and building a sand castle. Keana loves running in and out of the ocean and rolling in the sand, and just like her big sisters before her, Aliya was fearless. We had to really watch her as she took every opportunity to run, walk, crawl, and tumble toward the crashing waves. Even as she shivered and got super sandy, she squealed with delight. It was almost too much for Maia though, and we lost her to a late afternoon nap under the umbrella. Even Aliya was laying her face down straight in the sand from exhaustion. After leaving the beach, we walked back to the hotel and grabbed dinner at the taqueria next door and finished off the night with Kung-Fu Panda, which, I have to say, was filled with awesomeness.

The next day we spent a little time downtown, had breakfast at Zachary’s, then it was back to the beach. Sometimes I wonder why the beach is so important to our family. Maybe it’s our history there, or the perfect blend of chaos and predictability, or just having sand, wind, ocean, and sun, whilst having your nostrils filled with salty, seaweediness—I don’t know. What I do know is it is necessary for our health and sanity, and therefore always at the top of our list for vacations. That night, being so close to the ocean, it was also necessary to get some good sushi at our favorite spot in Santa Cruz, Shogun (also the location of our very first date). Michael and his girlfriend Laura joined us, and although we were all very tired, it was a great last dinner in SC.

As all good things come to an end, so must the visit to Santa Cruz. Maia especially did not want to leave the hotel, but lunch and a pot of chocolate (literally) at Chocolate (shitty website, great food), helped things a bit. Almost uncomfortably full of richness, we packed back into the car and headed home.

The next day we headed up to North Fork to stay at Sarah’s dad’s “cabin” which is near Bass Lake (where the amazing movie The Great Outdoors was filmed). We spent the afternoon at the lake and the girls loved the fact that the water was cool but not cold, and the mellow waves created by motor boats was just right. Keana is getting braver and braver in water, going in up to her chin and Maia slowly overcame her anxiety around the water. I hate to say that she got her papa’s comfort level with water. That night I barbecued tri-tip out on the deck and we dined outside with a great view of a monstrous “hill”, or little mountain, that’s covered with pines and granite boulders. The next day Sarah’s sister Iana, and her offspring Olivia, joined us at Bass Lake for more sun, fun, and general silliness.


The funny thing that I notice every time, and maybe it was even more striking since we had just been in Santa Cruz, was that there are two types of people: ocean people and lake people. Lake people are just slightly more rugged, maybe a little rough around the edges, and definitely more, how should I say…patriotic. Nevertheless, they are always friendly and we have yet to encounter any drunken-yahoo-badness. On the other hand, lake people are more down-to-earth and tend not to live in a spoiled fantasy.

Saturday morning was spent with Grandpa Robert and Nana Cin, and it’s always great to visit with them. The girls love performing for them and asking and answering a hundred questions. They especially love to help bake something in the kitchen with Cin so they were not disappointed there (Grandpa helped out too, especially with the logistics associated with shortness and counters and ovens). The car ride back to town was a sleepy one, the kids being totally worked from all our adventures.

So it was to the mountains and rivers, over to the beaches and oceans, and back up to the mountains and lakes for our last bit of summer vacation. Overall a really great week off, mostly outdoors, full of great weather, great smiles and laughter, and some great, and pretty classic, memories.

[pe2-gallery class=”alignleft” ]
IMG_4300.JPGIMG_4301.JPGIMG_4302.jpgIMG_4303.JPGIMG_4304.JPGIMG_4305.JPGIMG_4306.JPGIMG_4308.JPGIMG_4310.jpgIMG_4312.jpgIMG_4313.JPGIMG_4319.JPGIMG_4320.JPGIMG_4322.jpgIMG_4324.JPGIMG_4325.JPGIMG_4326.JPGIMG_4327.JPGIMG_4328.JPGIMG_4330.JPGIMG_4331.JPGIMG_4332.JPGIMG_4333.JPGIMG_4334.JPGIMG_4336.JPGIMG_4337.JPGIMG_4341.JPGIMG_4342.JPGIMG_4343.JPGIMG_4344.JPGIMG_4345.JPGIMG_4346.JPGIMG_4348.JPGIMG_4349.JPGIMG_4351.JPGIMG_4352.JPGIMG_4353.JPGIMG_4354.JPGIMG_4355.JPGIMG_4356.jpgIMG_4357.JPGIMG_4359.JPGIMG_4360.JPGIMG_4361.JPGIMG_4362.JPGIMG_4364.JPGIMG_4366.JPGIMG_4367.JPGIMG_4370.JPGIMG_4371.JPGIMG_4372.JPGIMG_4373.JPGIMG_4374.JPGIMG_4375.JPGIMG_4376.jpgIMG_4377.jpgIMG_4379.JPGIMG_4380.JPGIMG_4381.jpgIMG_4382.JPGIMG_4383.jpgIMG_4384.JPGIMG_4385.JPGIMG_4386.JPGIMG_4387.JPGIMG_4388.JPGIMG_4389.JPGIMG_4390.JPGIMG_4391.JPGIMG_4392.JPGIMG_4393.JPGIMG_4398.jpgIMG_4401.jpgIMG_4402.jpgIMG_4403.jpgIMG_4404.jpgIMG_4405.JPGIMG_4406.JPGIMG_4407.JPGIMG_4408.JPGIMG_4409.JPGIMG_4410.JPGIMG_4411.jpgIMG_4412.jpgIMG_4413.jpgIMG_4415.JPGIMG_4416.JPGIMG_4417.JPGIMG_4418.JPGIMG_4419.JPGIMG_4421.jpgIMG_4422.JPGIMG_4423.jpgIMG_4424.jpgIMG_4425.jpgIMG_4426.jpgIMG_4427.jpgIMG_4428.jpgIMG_4429.JPGIMG_4430.JPGIMG_4431.JPGIMG_4432.jpgIMG_4433.jpgIMG_4434.jpgIMG_4437.JPGIMG_4438.jpgIMG_4439.JPGIMG_4440.JPGIMG_4441.JPGIMG_4442.jpgIMG_4443.jpgIMG_4444.JPGIMG_4446.JPGIMG_4447.JPGIMG_4449.JPGIMG_4450.JPGIMG_4451.JPGIMG_4452.JPGIMG_4453.JPGIMG_4454.JPGIMG_4455.jpgIMG_4456.jpgIMG_4457.JPGIMG_4458.JPGIMG_4460.JPGIMG_4461.JPGIMG_4462.JPGIMG_4463.JPGIMG_4465.jpgIMG_4466.jpgIMG_4467.jpgIMG_4469.jpgIMG_4472.JPGIMG_4473.jpgIMG_4474.jpgIMG_4475.jpgIMG_4476.jpgIMG_4477.JPGIMG_4478.JPGIMG_4480.jpgIMG_4481.JPGIMG_4482.JPGIMG_4483.JPGIMG_4484.JPGIMG_4485.JPGIMG_4488.JPGIMG_4491.JPGIMG_4492.JPGIMG_4500.JPGIMG_4501.jpgIMG_4502.jpgIMG_4506.JPGIMG_4508.JPGIMG_4509.JPGIMG_4510.JPGIMG_4513.JPGIMG_4516.JPGIMG_4517.JPGIMG_4519.JPGIMG_4521.JPGIMG_4523.JPGIMG_4524.JPGIMG_4526.JPGIMG_4530.JPGIMG_4531.JPGIMG_4535.JPGIMG_4537.JPGIMG_4538.JPGIMG_4539.JPGIMG_4540.JPGIMG_4541.JPGIMG_4543.JPGIMG_4544.jpgIMG_4549.JPGIMG_4551.JPGIMG_4556.JPGIMG_4560.JPGIMG_4561.JPGIMG_4562.JPGIMG_4563.JPGIMG_4566.JPGIMG_4568.JPGIMG_4569.JPGIMG_4574.JPGIMG_4575.JPGIMG_4577.JPGIMG_4579.JPGIMG_4581.JPGIMG_4582.JPGIMG_4583.JPGIMG_4584.JPGIMG_4585.JPGIMG_4586.jpgIMG_4587.JPG[/pe2-gallery]

Reunion

This last weekend we headed back to the bay, back to the birth place of Keana and Maia, for a special reunion of sorts. Our home birth group, which we met when Sarah was pregnant with Keana, had our sixth birthday. None of us believed our instructor six years ago when she told us that many groups stay in touch long after the class ends, and some even vacation together. Low and behold, here we are, even separated by hundreds of miles now, still connected.

We drove down Saturday morning and spent the day in downtown Berkeley, checking out the wildlife, shopping, and eating ice cream. We were all pretty beat by dinner time, but we braved a new restaurant (which actually sucked), and headed back to the hotel for the nightly excitement of “how are we going to get the kids to sleep, and once we do, how long do they stay that way”. Surprisingly it wasn’t too difficult getting them to sleep, with the exception of Maia, who didn’t even protest as much as she could have. We splurged for a suite (which was only $30 more than double anyway) and it was definitely worth it. Throughout the night we rotated beds and children, but pretty much woke up refreshed and ready to go.

The home birth picnic-party started at 2 p.m. We had selected three different picnic areas to try in Tilden, and I thought it was going to be a nightmare syncing up with six other families, especially with no cell reception, but everything fell into place. We passed one other family on the road (our former neighbors actually) and followed each other to the nearest spot on our list. It happened to be free, even though it was a gorgeous Sunday in a very popular park. One by one, the other families found us and the festivities began.

The amazing thing about this group is that we’ve been through so much together, that no matter how long in between seeing each other, we just fall back in place. We’ve had first babies together, second, and thirds. We’ve all had our share of hospital scares, sick children, and even one death. Families have moved and grown and changed but our first-time-home-birth-parent bond has kept us together and strong over these last six years. The oldest kids just played and played together all afternoon and I think the socialization of school has really helped them to grow. Whereas some kids wouldn’t always find their place in the past, all six of them seemed to play well together all afternoon; some forming small groups and partnerships for a minute, then coming back together for a rambunctious group game of soccer/tag/fairies/warriors/wizards/whatever else.

The food was amazing as always and there was plenty of time for us all to catch up. The two families that were there first, ours and our former neighbors down the street, were the last to leave. As the sun set, we lingered a while after the cars were packed, the kids especially not wanting to say goodbye. The only thing that pushed us apart was our looming drive back to Fresno, and the warm thought that we would be reunited soon, and when we were, it would be as if no time had passed at all.

Holiday run-down

I have a lot of interesting stories, quotes, funny kid moments, and development news, but I’m going to be a big tease and just say I have it, it’s in here (points to head), but you’ll have to wait till I have the energy to write it down, sorry:-)

In other news, for the record, here’s what’s been happening this holiday season…

The kids are out of school from December 20 through January 7, and I’m taking this whole time off too, so that’s really good. I’d say three weeks is just about enough time to handle the holidays, get the house sort of back into shape, and maybe, just maybe, get a little extra rest. Of course all three girls have been sick, starting with Maia, then moving on to Keana and Aliya on the 21st. It’s Aliya’s first Christmas and first time getting sick, but she’s handled both like a champ.

We were in Los Altos for Peterson Christmas the 20-21 at Great Grandma Jacquie and Great Grandpa Vic’s, and they were gracious hosts as usual. We had our now-annual game of hide-and-go-seek with the cousins (McKenna (for a short time), Cassidy and Riley (for the whole time)), and it was a lot of fun as usual. We played a brief game of tag too, but those girls are actually getting too fast for me. For the record, in an all out sprint I think I could still take them, but for short distance tag, they got me whooped. But it was great to see the great grandparents of course, Grandma Linda and Grandpa Sam (out from Texas), Great Aunt Janet, Great Uncle Vic and Aunt Kristie, and Uncle Peter (and we met his boyfriend DeAnthonie for the first time as well). Maia, Aliya, Sarah, and I slept in Aunt Janet’s old room upstairs, and Keana tried to hang with the big girls campout-style downstairs, but some time in the middle of the night snuck into bed with Sarah. The next day was not-so-great, with Keana throwing up at the grandparents’, in the car, then again at home, but luckily it didn’t last. I think I earned some major dad points that day by catching several throw-ups before they hit the ground, and one even in my cupped hands. That’s right, you heard me. In. My. Hands.

Christmas Eve we spent with Grandma Jennie, Tia, Uncle Ryan, Cousin Olivia, and Great Grandma Bev and it was short but sweet. The girls love their cousin Olivia, who is now walking, so even twice the fun. Christmas Day we went over to Jennie’s house and enjoyed a nice brunch, with more gifts, and returned home for a little rest before my mom and Sam showed up, fresh (or nearly) from their visit in Folsom (with the family out there, not the inmates). Mom and Sam stayed till the 28th, and we basically lounged around, rested up, put them to work doing dishes, grocery shopping, and baking. Sounds like work but I think we would all agree it was really nice hanging with them, especially since we rarely see them since they live all the way out in…aghem…Texas.

And now we’re basically here. Right now. Eve of New Year’s Eve. In about 8 hours we’re heading up to North Fork to visit with Grandpa Robert and Nana Cin. We were hoping there would be snow, but I don’t think it will happen yet. I’ve considered seeing what the girls think of a new year, 2011, but I think we’ll just skip that conversation this year. They live in the present. Minutes and hours are sort of a concept now, but weeks, months, years…no, they don’t matter. What matters is what we’re playing with right now, what we’re talking about right now, and I like that. Something I think we all could work on. Maybe in 2011? Wait. What’s that?

Perpetusmile

That pretty much sums Aliya up: perpetusmile. She is so mellow, so easy going, and so damn smiley it’s ridiculous. Sure, she gets upset if she’s hungry or tired, but she can be talked out of it very easily.

Anyway, we had our 6 month check-up at UCSF last Friday (December 10) and the doctors confirmed what we’ve all suspected and have been observing since Aliya came home: she’s perfect. She handled all the “test” objects well, manipulated them, followed them when they moved/dropped/etc. She’s making sounds with inflection- she even says “mama” from time to time and “mmmmm” and has started “b”- and generally aced all the doctor’s tests. In fact, she did so well they said we could skip the 9 month follow-up.

We’ve also been trying out a few foods with Aliya since Thanksgiving in very small tastes at a time, mostly because she’s seemed so interested. She’s tried avocado, turkey, rice, pears, applesauce, and egg yolks (cooked of course), but she threw those up this morning and we’ve realized that maybe we’ve been a little overkill with it. I’m pretty sure Keana started much later than 5 months, and Maia was a little earlier than that, but not this early. So we’ll back off for a while. She’s a little over 19lbs and is over 26 inches long, so she’s getting enough to grow at a good pace.

Maia has taken huge leaps since turning three. Just before, and certainly now, she seems like a really different kid. More articulate. More reasonable. But of course, still her feisty, scrimesties self. She’s pretty much sleeping through the night and since I’ve been her only go-to guy at night, she’s done really well. I think she needed it to be clear who was on duty and what was going to be happen if she woke up and called out. She often doesn’t fights nap time and sometimes has enough energy to make it through the day sans nap, but if anyone’s going to fall asleep at the dinner table, it’s her. Or, of she’s in a car or stroller in the later day, early evening, she’s a goner. With being three there is some new fire for Maia, but in a lot of ways, that fire doesn’t quite burn you as much.

And our big Zoob. Little Miss Sunshine. When we were in Berkeley last week, Keana was dancing down the sidewalk, around the office, and in the hospital telling everyone she was the sun. And in so many ways, she is. Keana is the brightest, sweetest, most positive, open, person you’ll ever meet. She and I have been butting heads a lot lately, but I only have to take a breath and look at her, and she teaches me all I need to know about patience, love, and understanding. Oh, and the other day, we’re driving along and she blurts out, “Hey! 5 plus 3 equals 8!” I was blown away but at the same time not surprised at all. Also, while we were in Long Beach, Tia taught her Itsy Bitsy Spider in spanish and one day, weeks later, Keana was just singing it perfectly, as if she’d learned it an hour ago. She’s been doing stuff like this since she was born, and having little Aliya Baby in the house now reminds us how gifted these kids are from the time they’re born and on and on.

So there you go. Not all the times in Casa de Team Hokama have been bubbles and cookies lately, but as we struggle through learning to be good parents and good spouses, we have only to look at our kids’ tiny but growing faces to know that it’s all worth it, and it all shakes down in the end.

When Papa got a minute

We got the kids to bed kind of early tonight so here I go…

Last week Aliya was still just figuring out grabbing things well with her hands and now, seven days later, she’s so much smoother. Yeah, she still drops things and doesn’t always rotate them smoothly, but she is so much more dexterous and accurate with her grip, it’s scary. These damn babies develop so fast and we are beyond thankful. Aliya still laughs hysterically at her sisters, so much so it almost sounds like something between a smoky bar laugh and baby’s cry. First time she did it I wasn’t sure she was actually happy until I saw her big smile at the silly things her sisters were doing. She’s also figured out how to thump her leg in her bouncer to back it bounce and once it stops, she thumps again to get it going. Brilliant.

Maia is still struggling with sleeping through the night. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t, but she always wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. People are always saying not to look forward too much to the teen years, but I have to say right now, I’m ready to get back to sleeping in until noon. I think Maia is still really struggling with not being the baby anymore and she wants to grow up and be independent like Sissy (Keana), but she’s just not quite there yet. It’s a big step and although we’re quite frustrated with her, I have a soft spot for what she’s going through. I remember feeling exactly like her at several stages when I was coming up.

Keana continues to be our extraordinary pioneer. Her parent/teacher conference was amazing and her teacher said that she is well beyond where they expect at this point in kindergarten. We, of course, try not to put too much weight in evaluations like this, but I have to say it’s what every parent wants to hear. There’s a little boy in her class that has been trying to kiss her and/or talk about kissing her, so that has been interesting. Keana and this boy played all the time together but when he started this behavior, she was done. Thankfully the school is taking it seriously and wants Keana to be comfortable, so we’ll see how everything turns out. Sarah and I know that this little guy just likes her a lot, and perhaps doesn’t have great modeling at home, so we’re just rolling with it for now and letting her teacher deal; don’t want to make it a bigger deal than it is. I guess the whole “boys and girls can’t just be friends” starts early (just joking…sort of).

Last weekend we went down to Long Beach to visit Tia, Uncle Ryan, and Cousin Olivia. We hadn’t been down there since last Thanksgiving, so it was time. It was a lot of fun, minus the 6+hour drive to get down there. But Iana and Ryan were very good to us and the girls had a blast with Olivia. She’s starting to walk, so Keana had fun leading her around by her hands, and both Maia and her had fun torturing her with as much love as she could take. Honestly though, I think Olivia really enjoyed having her boisterous cousins around for a couple days and it was fun watching them together. Of course the World Series was on so some time had to be spent rooting for our Giants, and there was the costume/trick-or-treating-candy-eating-mayhem on Halloween, but all-in-all it was pretty restful and great to get away. (SO many pics from October/Halloween, not enough time tonight, so I’ll get them up tomorrow.)

I can’t believe we’re already entering into the holiday season, with Maia’s birthday falling on Thanksgiving this year. This month is going to be crazy, especially with me having a work trip the week before Thanksgiving, but we’re looking forward to it. Today we had a very productive day around the house and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed raking leaves off the roof and cleaning out gutters. Why is being on a roof so much fun? I do not know. But it did feel good to get give away some things, clean up a bit, and prepare for this great month we’re about to have.

Adjusting

It’s been amazing to have so much time off to bond with Aliya (six weeks) and adjust to our new family configuration, especially given the intensity of Aliya’s first week out. And I think we always knew this, but each day we’re realizing that that first week really took a lot out of all of us. It sounds obvious writing it here, but the amount of energy and emotion surrounding Aliya’s birth really can’t be explained. So we’ve been trying to just relax and enjoy our time together even though the house is a wreck (though getting better), and we’re all a little sleep deprived, and it’s hotter than Hades here.

Last week we headed up to North Fork where Sarah’s dad Robert has a cabin/house. We left late Wednesday (7/14) and came back mid-day Monday. It’s pretty rural out there and it’s several thousand feet higher than here, so it’s at least 5-10 degrees cooler; not a lot cooler, but there is a big difference between 95 and 105, and it’s much cooler at night too. It was really nice to be closer to the wilderness (with actual trees and hills), and be disconnected from our life here for a while (especially as the medical bills are starting to pile in). The first day the girls just played/explored around the house. Bed time was interesting as every room has deer antlers on the wall which to small children are very monster-like in the dark. But we got through the first night and the other nights were much easier. Keana and Maia went to sleep together and I joined them later, and Sarah and Aliya slept in the other bedroom upstairs. Friday we went to Bass Lake which is where The Great Outdoors was filmed, and enjoyed some time by the lake. It was pretty hot, but Aliya seemed content napping in the shade and Keana made friends with another girl there, who happens to live nearby us in Fresno, so we may have made some new friends. We rounded out the day with some glorious roasted marshmallows. Maia really enjoyed putting them on the stick, while Keana really enjoyed eating them. Keana likes them pretty rare, while Maia likes them a darker, golden brown. It’s really funny how different those two are. Keana was pretty scared of the fire too (which is smart of course), but Maia inched closer and closer saying, “Maia’s a little braver.”

Saturday was another mellow day around the cabin and Sunday we went down to the creek. The thing about North Fork is the locals can be a little rough around edges, and we certainly met a few down at the creek. One group of Native Americans were swatting water snakes with a stick with one of them laughing a little maniacally, while another rugged group brought their skunk-sprayed dog down to the river to “wash it off” as the man talked about his second daughter being a mistake because his “old lady got her tubes tied but it didn’t take”. He went on to explain how he couldn’t find/afford a lawyer to sue Kaiser. Needless to say, we didn’t stay real long, but it was nice to get in the cooler water for a minute. And Sunday we enjoyed a nice dinner out on the patio of the Buckhorn, courtesy of Grandpa Robert and Nana Cin.

So now we’re back in town, enduring the heat, and taking care of business. We got the bunk-beds built and are trying that out. We bought them last summer but Keana and Maia were really too young. The girls enjoyed sleeping together while we were with Aliya at UCSF, and up in North Fork, so we think this may be a good solution to have them together but give them their own space (and save some space too). The first two nights required some “stern parenting”, but last night was a success. Well, at least for the going to bed part. Both girls woke up in the middle of the night and had some trouble going back to sleep. Maia just dressed her dolls and herself for about an hour then fell asleep on the floor.

The house is slowly getting cleaned, one room a day, and photos and videos are slowly getting online. Last night we had our first community meeting for Keana’s new school, Dailey Elementary Charter, where we found out more about the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program and met some teachers. The school focuses on student inquiry and bringing in outside resources to supplement the text books. Also, everything is integrated, so whenever possible, english/math/social studies/etc. are tied together to help the kids see the “real world” applications. Respect, open-mindedness, and caring are also emphasized in all aspects of the learning, so I think it’s going to be a really great school for our girls.

Basically there is so so so much to do and I’m beginning to think we have only touched on the madness of having three kids, though I still feel getting three car seats in our car and getting the kids in them all at once is a pretty magnificent feat.

Your 1st 50th

Hey Little Baby, it’s me again, Papa. I thought you’d like to know what’s been going on out here since I last wrote. Your sisters were sick last week so that was exciting as usual. Fevers, copious amounts of snot, more tissue than you can believe- you’ll see. Not fun but not all that bad. Just another one of the things you get used to on the outside. I had another work trip to Berkeley also, and I couldn’t believe that it was probably my last trip to the bay until after you’re born! You’ll be within your dates to pop out in three weeks now, but there’s no rush. You just stay in there and bake as long as you need. Make sure you’re really ready for this Team Hokama craziness.

Last week was filled with the usual antics around the house. Mama helped Keana and Maia build a castle out of cardboard which is still around, being used for all kinds of make-believe goodness. And Thursday morning before Keana went to school, she and Maia got into Mama’s makeup and painted on their faces and arms. I think they were pretending they were kitties. I definitely got a glimpse of the future that morning.

Keana and I continued the piano lessons, and started to learn Three Blind Mice which then turned into a chasing game around the house where we each took turns chopping off each other’s tails. Maybe you heard your sisters squealing with delight while they held onto their butts as I was chasing them down the hall? Good times ahead for you Little One! We also finished up planting the zucchini, carrots, bush beans, chard, tomatoes, mint, basil, rosemary, and parsley so you’ll have a nice little garden here when you arrive.

On Friday we had another prenatal appointment with Dr. Kopascz. Everything looked good, you’re “measuring perfectly”, and just after the doctor checked your heartbeat with the doppler, you moved so fast that it surprised even her. It was really funny to see a doctor be so astonished, especially when you imagine that she’s probably seen thousands of babies. It was a very defined movement, so maybe it was your knee or elbow? Anyway, you continue to amaze us with all your action.

Keana’s really been working hard writing the letters in her name and figuring out how to spell words. You can bet she’ll be a great teacher for you. A lot of parents stress out or brag about how much their kids read or write, even before kindergarten, but you’ll be happy to know we have complete confidence in your abilities already, and all will be learned in good time. We think we’ll be sending Keana to Dailey Elementary Charter School, which is a new charter that uses the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. Basically its a focus is on global standards, so the kids learn another language starting in kindergarten (Spanish), and continue on through 5th grade. They also hire specialty teachers in physical education, art, and music, so it seems there’s a good emphasis on the whole student, not just reading, writing, and math. The idea is to teach kids to be a part of a global community and help each kid grow so they can compete on an international stage. At least that’s what I gather from my research. They do have longer days though, 90 minutes longer for kindergarten and 180 for the other grades I think. Hopefully that’s just so there’s plenty of time for the extra language and arts without neglecting the basics. We’ll see though. It is a new school, so Keana will have to test it out for you. Aren’t you lucky to have two older sisters to test the waters before you have to jump in?

On Saturday we headed to Sacramento for your Great Uncle Vic’s 50th birthday celebration. Keana and Maia had a blast playing with cousins McKenna, Cassidy, and Riley, and I’m sure you’ll love them too. They’ll be pretty old by the time you’re able to run around with them, but they’re so sweet I’m sure they’ll slow down for you (at least they do for Keana and Maia). Your sisters really enjoyed swimming and jumping on the giant trampoline too. I also realized that we probably won’t see most of that family until after you’re born as well. They’re all quite excited to meet you and see what kind of scruffer you’ll turn out to be.

Man, it was crazy though. The party was great, but Maia was really getting tired, so we headed to our hotel. And we all crashed after getting settled, but Maia woke up at 2 a.m. Maybe you heard her? Anyway, she would not settle down and as you know, Mama needed rest to keep up with you, so we told Maia if she didn’t quiet down and go to sleep, we’d have to drive her around in the car until she was ready to sleep. She called our bluff and said, “I want to go in the car.” So she and I got dressed and I took her out. It was windy and cold and I figured she’d be asleep in 20 or 30 minutes. Oh no. She was ready to go. She was pretending bad guys were chasing us and I’d look back and she’d have this mischievous smile and she’d say, “Papa, I’m scared!” I drove and drove and it was quite clear she wasn’t settling down. Eventually we got hungry so I found a Safeway and I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was either kidnapping her or that we were crazy. It was almost 4 a.m. at this point and you’ll see that that is not the time for kids to be out and about. We got some flowers for Mama for Mother’s Day, then some bread, cheese, salami, and water and had a little picnic in the car with the motor running to keep the heat on. You should have seen your sister. She was having a blast, and I must admit, so was I. When I was younger I used to do stuff like that all time, so it was great to be on a night adventure with your sister. Every once in a while Maia would say, “More cheese Papa!” followed by a high-pitched, “Thank youuuu!” It was really a lot of fun. But as 5 a.m. approached I realized how horrible the day was going to be without some sleep. We finished up and I put Maia back in her seat and asked if she was ready to sleep now. She said, “Let’s keep driving!” I realized my mistake was fueling her up, so we drove a little longer, then headed back to the hotel. It was a little after five before she crawled into bed with Keana and I. Hilarious. Three people in a double bed. Around 7 a.m. I think I crawled into bed with you and Mama and I thought for a brief moment, “What the hell are we going to do with THREE kids! Where are we all going to sleep?” Don’t worry. We’ll figure something out. Or we won’t ever leave our house. Just kidding. Maybe.

We woke up kind of late (surprise surprise) and headed over to Great Aunt Krisite’s Mom’s house for Mother’s Day brunch. It was an elaborate spread and great to see all the Petersons one last time before heading home. You all slept for a while in the car heading back to Fresno, but then Little Miss Maia woke up and was pissed. She always has a hard time the last part of any trip, so hopefully she’ll be over that by the time you start rolling side-by-side with that crazy girl. Keana’s pretty easy going in the car though, so at least you’ll have her to balance things out. This is, of course, assuming you’re not going to be as crazy as Maia, but I know you’ll have your own flavor of crazy however it turns out. Otherwise you wouldn’t have made the team.

Anyway, we got our appointment with Jacque tomorrow, so rest up and we’ll just keep getting things ready out here for your arrival! I think this weekend I’ll be cleaning out the garage and getting all the baby gear out. Oh, and maybe we’ll see if Tia’s birth tub will work for us.

Love,
Papa

Baby

Keana and Maia’s first, first cousin was born last Thursday, September 17 at 9:38 a.m. and we were in town for the big show. Her name is Olivia and she was 6 lbs. 14 oz. and 20 inches long. The girls were SO excited when they heard the good news. Sarah was already at the hospital and we were on our way, driving on the I-5 north towards Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Keana and Maia were in the backseat, holding hands as they did throughout our trip to Long Beach, and I got The Call. Just minutes before, Keana, Maia, and I had taken bets on whether we thought it would be a girl or a boy. We all decided it would be a girl, and I got to be the good messenger that told them, “It’s a girl, Girls!” Maia squealed and Keana yelled, “Yaaaay!” and they proceeded to jump and wiggle in their car seats the rest of the way to the hospital in anxious anticipation of meeting the new baby.

Earlier that week I had traveled to Berkeley for some meetings, but had rented a car just in case this very thing happened. Tuesday morning, at 7:24 a.m. Iana called me and said, “My water broke around 12:30 last night and I think I want you guys to come down.” I immediately got on the phone with Sarah and worked out the plan; I’d drive from Tiburon (where the meeting was at), and She, Keana, Maia, and Jennie would drive from Fresno so they’d get there faster. I arrived at Iana and Ryan’s house around 4 p.m. and I could already see Iana had been doing some work. The contractions were still relatively mellow, but she had that pre-baby look. For the next couple of days, Keana, Maia and I hung out around Long Beach and in the hotel, waiting for the good news. Sarah stayed with Iana and Ryan most of the time to support them, and visited us every now again to check in and remind the girls she was still close. It definitely wasn’t easy being in a different town taking care of Keana and Maia myself. Keana’s pretty easy, but Maia is still really attached to her mama. The good thing was that it gave Maia and I a chance to bond, so I think it really brought the two of us closer. We definitely had fun at the beach and had a couple late-night “Papa Movie Nights”, staying up later than usual before the three of us retired to the king-size.

The tough part for me was not knowing exactly what was going on. Sarah gave me good updates, but it was such a roller coaster. Iana and Ryan really wanted to have a home birth, but since Iana’s water broke, there was a bit of deadline to get that baby out, and the contractions- and ultimately the baby’s position- weren’t necessarily aligned with the original plan. As with every birth, there were a lot of things you just can’t predict so you have to roll with it, which is never easy, especially over several days.

In the end I was really thankful that we were all able to be down there for the exciting moment and we’re looking forward to getting to know little Olivia much better. It’s fun to see Iana and Ryan become parents and embark on their new, greatest adventure, and it reminds me of all the tough, but magical moments Sarah and I have been through up until now.